AS the curtain closes on another Commonwealth Games, we take a look back at how each of the netballing nations fared in our team-by-team review series. Wrapping up the series is Australia, with the world number ones able to go one better than their 2018 Commonwealth Games by taking home the Gold Medal, defeating Jamaica in a memorable decider.
GAMES AT A GANDER
Australia came into the Commonwealth Games as naturally one of the Gold Medal favourites. The Diamonds had that heartbreaking loss to England in 2018, and now on the Roses soil, were keen to make amends.
A first-up match against the lowest ranked nation in Barbados went the way that everyone expected it to, as the Aussies came away with a massive 95-18 victory. They backed that up with another high-scoring 83-30 triumph over Scotland, before facing their first top five side in South Africa.
They took care of the SPAR Proteas by 25 goals to effectively secure a semi-finals spot, before ticking off the last box of the lower ranked nations. In the penultimate group match, the Diamonds defeated Wales 79-33, before the stage was set for the two undefeated sides in Pool A – Australia and Jamaica – to go head-to-head. Unfortunately for the Diamonds despite leading for the most part, they slipped late and the Sunshine Girls ran over the top of them on their way to a 57-55 victory.
That would only be a temporary disappointment though, as Australia sought revenge on the reigning Commonwealth Games Gold Medallists England by nine goals, then stepped up in the Gold Medal match to take control in the mid-part of the game and reversed the result against the Sunshine Girls to win, 55-51.
Australia’s standouts could be just about the entire squad, but it was no surprise to see world class wing attack Liz Watson and deadeye shooter Gretel Bueta right up the top of the list. Watson helped herself to 168 goal assists from 245 feeds, 11 deflections and one intercept, while Bueta scored 253 goals from 263 attempts – 96.2 per cent accuracy – had 17 goal assists, six rebounds and four deflections. Defender Courtney Bruce – who was one of the most determined having been front and centre to England’s winning goal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games – held up her end, picking up 15 intercepts, 33 deflections and seven rebounds, though also notched up 100 penalties. Ash Brazill (19 goal assists, eight intercepts and 17 deflections) also stepped up in big moments for the Diamonds.
Though a very experienced side only two players in the squad were aged 30 or older at the Commonwealth Games, giving the Australians plenty of scope for the future. The youngest member of the squad was 21 year-old Sunday Aryang who was able to taste court action in five of her matches, picking up six rebounds, four intercepts and nine deflections, while having just 13 penalties and one turnover. Up the other end, Kiera Austin (28 goals from 33 attempts, one rebound, one intercept and six deflections) supported well, while Cara Koenen was the second highest goal shooter (149 goals from 158 attempts) while also having seven rebounds, two intercepts and three deflections.
Australia has an incredible amount of quality across all thirds of the court, and realistically an Australia A side would knock off those sides outside the top five such is the depth of the nation. The Diamonds headed to Birmingham with one goal in mind, securing the Gold Medal they missed out on on their own home soil, which they achieved and also knocked off England to do so. Australia made history becoming the first nation to lose a Commonwealth Games match but still go on to in the Gold Medal, so it was fitting that the green and gold triumphed against the odds.